What we know about email is always changing. How can you stay ahead of the pack this year and beyond? In this in-depth piece, we’re bringing you some solid email marketing tips for 2021.
Experts from Hubspot, Oracle, Zoho and other top companies share their best suggestions to help you succeed with your email campaigns all year.
How do I increase open rates? When should I send and how often? How can I write better subject lines? Should I be personalizing more?
If these are things you’re wondering, saddle up, partner!
Here are some of the best email marketing tips for 2021.
Chad S. White, Oracle: “The ‘best time to send’ has forever been a moving target.”
One of the most heavily debated questions in email marketing is what day is the best day to send emails. Here’s what Chad S. White, Head of Research at Oracle, has to say.
“The ‘best time to send’ has forever been a moving target, but no more so than during 2020 when the pandemic caused a spike in unemployment and a shift to work from home that led to significant changes to subscriber behaviors.
Some of our clients saw significant boosts in email engagement by changing their email send days to traditionally less popular days, such as Saturday and Sunday.
Also, some experienced boosts from changing their send time or, better yet, adopting send time optimization, which sends your emails based on each subscriber’s previous open times.
Some of these changes should unwind over the course of 2021 as vaccines are rolled out, the economies recover, and people start to establish a New Normal.
However, some of these subscriber behavior shifts will be permanent. That will require email marketers to continue to A/B test their send dates, with a focus on optimizing bottom-of-the-funnel activity. It’s also likely to mean another big year for the adoption of send time optimization.”
—Chad S. White, Head of Research at Oracle Marketing Consulting and author of Email Marketing Rules
Sarah Noel Block, Tiny Marketing: “If you email too little, they forget you exist.”
In addition to knowing when to send, many email marketers want to know, “how often should I email my list?” Sarah Noel Block of Tiny Marketing shed some light on this question.
“I recently ran a survey on LinkedIn about this very topic! How often should we be emailing our list? The poll was close, but the results showed every one-two weeks is ideal.
Every industry is different. A retailer might send emails a few times a week, while a realtor might send a bi-weekly round-up. What transcends industry is the need to stay in front of your customer.
If you email too little, they forget you exist and unsubscribe when you finally click send after ghosting them for a month. If you email too much, they get annoyed that you’re clogging their inbox.
Start with once a week and A/B test from there to see what is perfect for your audience.”
—Sarah Noel Block, Founder of Tiny Marketing
Aleksey Danchenko, eSputnik: “The concept of service over the product will prevail.”
Now that you’re sending on a consistent timeframe and with an effective frequency, what can you do to increase your click rates and conversions? Here’s what Aleksey Danchenko of eSputnik advises.
“I believe the concept of service over the product will continue to prevail. Customers will base their loyalty on a satisfying shopping experience with your brand rather than on the qualities of your product.
In the post-COVID world, customer experience will first mean ‘app experience.’ All brands serious about their marketing efforts need to have well-running apps and mobile push messaging strategies.
Also, communication has to become more customer-oriented. Your emails have to be accessible: optimized for people with visual impairments, for mobiles and Dark Mode. Furthermore, try to use the customer’s language, and make sure emails are fast to upload on any gadget.
Moreover, pay attention to anything that improves the conversation with your brand – from a store finder to “track your order” buttons. As for other messages you may be sending, like web pushes or SMS, implement them in omnichannel workflows. Rather than creating white noise, they should work together to target one goal at a time.
Content on all platforms should be diverse, ethical and inclusive. 2021 is going to be the year of extreme social and political polarization. So brands will have to navigate it with extra care, deciding what side to take and what values to share.”
—Aleksey Danchenko, COO and co-founder of eSputnik
Tobias Knobl, Mailbutler: “Never miss an opportunity to gather data.”
How can personalizing content and segmentation help your email campaigns? Tobias Knobl gives knowledge you can implement to get better results in 2021 and beyond.
“It is well known that ‘one-size-fits-all’ email marketing yields significantly poorer results than personalized content. However, choosing the best ways to segment your consumer base can be difficult. That is why we have put together a couple of simple segmenting tips to help you on your way.
Firstly, you want to make sure that you’re collecting as much data from your consumer base as possible. Whether this is via registration forms or manual research, never miss an opportunity to gather data.
Next, you want to ensure that you’re focusing your efforts on the consumers that matter the most to you. Find data that the majority of your consumers have in common: are they mostly women? Are they big companies or small? Knowing who your core consumer is, and what data defines them, allows you to segment in a meaningful way.
Finally, segment your consumer base geographically. Sending your emails at the right time for your consumer can determine the level of engagement you see.
For instance, using Mailbutler’s ‘Send Later’ feature lets you schedule emails to send at the perfect time, so you don’t have to be awake at midnight to email consumers from across the globe!”
—Tobias Knobl, CEO and Co-founder of Mailbutler
Swathika Mahalakshmi, Zoho: “Plan your emails every quarter.”
What’s a winning email copywriting strategy for 2021? Should marketers in the B2B space have a different tone of voice than those in B2C? What about email length? Should you plan how long the emails should be? Swathika Mahalakshmi, the Product Manager for Zoho Campaigns, shares her expertise on these topics and more.
While the chaos of 2020 changed the way marketers communicated with customers, email marketing emerged as a winner and continues to be one of the most sought-after communication channels.
As we enter 2021, how can email marketers capitalize on this moment and communicate more meaningfully with readers?
- Personalization has become more crucial than ever. The words ‘You’ and ‘Your’ have a big effect on reader emotions.
- Use simple and direct language so recipients understand what your brand offers.
- Respect your audience’s time and inbox. Create copy they’ll find relevant, empathetic, and helpful.
- Limit your email to 25-150 words to retain reader attention spans.
- Plan your emails every quarter.
Another important factor is your email’s tone. If you’re a B2B owner, focus on building long-term customer relationships. Understand your different target audiences and explain how their business can benefit from your service. Be genuine and business-oriented.
Here are a few more tips to get you started in 2021:
- Keep your emails responsive and dark mode compatible across devices.
- Schedule emails at the time your recipients are most likely to open them.
- Test emails with different versions before sending them out.
- Provide offers and deals that encourage your audience to stay with you.
—Swathika Mahalakshmi, Product Marketer for Zoho Campaigns, an email marketing software solution from the Zoho Suite
Aine Devane, Hubspot: “Make your subject lines stand out with personalization.”
Subject lines are the first thing your subscribers see. To say they’re important is an understatement. Aine Devane of HubSpot shows you how subject line personalization can boost your results.
“Email marketing will continue to be one of the most effective channels to reach customers in 2021. Subject lines are a key tool marketers have to cut through the noise of their customers’ inboxes.
To make your subject line stand out from the crowded inbox, personalization will be key. In fact, message personalization is the #1 tactic used by email marketers to increase engagement rates.
In 2021, personalization will move beyond adding a first name to a subject line, we need to be smarter. Marketers should use customer actions (abandoned cart, page views, content viewed) and demographic information (company name, industry) to create truly relevant and personalized subject lines.”
—Aine Devane, Manager International Marketing Automation, HubSpot
Emily Ryan, Westfield Creative: “Add multiple ways to opt-in/sign up throughout your website.”
If your email list is nicely rolling along, it can’t hurt to make it easy for people to subscribe. Emily Ryan of Westfield Creative has some very useful tips on how to grow your email list in 2021.
“A great email list is one of the most valuable things you could have for your marketing. Investing time working on growing your email list will lead to an incredibly high return on your investment when you’re ready to sell a product or reach your customers.
There are many ways you can grow your email list. Here are some of my favorite ways to gain new subscribers:
- Add multiple ways to opt-in/sign up throughout your website. Your website should be flooded with different ways to sign up. Whether that’s a popup when they enter the site or a button to subscribe or simply linking to various lead magnets (requiring people to sign up to get the lead magnet), your website is one of the best places to grow your list. Also, make sure your website subscribe forms are visible and not just in the footer!
- Host a Zoom webinar where people sign up to attend (and join your email list).
- Post on social media consistently, asking followers to subscribe. Before you send an email, do a quick post letting people know your new email is coming soon and to click a link to sign up (you can create a free landing page in Mailchimp to collect subscribers).
- Participate/speak on a webinar, podcast or a speaking gig. This is a GREAT way to get new subscribers quickly.
- Add a link to the bottom of your email signature asking people to sign up.
- Facebook ads or social media.
With the new year here, now is a great time to focus on ways you can gain new subscribers. Investing time creating an opt-in (which can be a simple one-page list of tips) is an easy way to get new emails.
The same ways we’ve worked to grow our email list in the past, still apply. Making it a priority for 2021 is one of the best things you can do for your business.”
—Emily Ryan, Co-founder of Westfield Creative, Mailchimp Pro Partner
Uwe Dreissigacker, InvoiceBerry: “Spend time on getting to know your recipient.”
Email marketers who realize emails are a two-way street are ahead of their peers. Uwe Dreissigacker of InvoiceBerry sheds some light on making your subscribers feel like you see them.
“The pandemic changed the way businesses operate and it gave us some new trends and opportunities in email marketing. During these trying times, customers expect more commitment and empathy from brands, hence the reason why you should focus on hyper-personalization and customer experience the most.
We already know that sending emails with personalized subject lines increases open rates, and therefore drafting personalized email copy will turn into more leads and happy customers.
Don’t stop at adding your recipient’s name in your email subject line, spend some additional time on getting to know your recipient, and provide them with information relevant to them. This will make people feel like you wrote the email with them in mind.”
—Uwe Dreissigacker, Founder & CEO InvoiceBerry
Josh Brown, Helpjuice: “80 – 90% of your content should be informative.”
Some people think email marketing is just “sell, sell, sell.” Josh Brown of Helpjuice believes that your emails should be primarily informational. By being useful, you have their attention when you wish to market your products or services.
“As a general rule of thumb, for a list that you haven’t done any type of segmentation on, or for new subscribers that you don’t know much about, 80 – 90% of your content should be informative/educational/curated. You can dedicate the rest to promoting your business.
The beauty of email marketing is how effective it can be for engaging and building relationships on a personal level. But are you optimizing your sending frequency and content?
For example, certain subscribers tend to open and click-through promotional emails. These could be people that subscribed to your list due to a promotional opt-in, such as a coupon or offer code. In this case, it makes sense to send them a higher percentage of promotional emails.
Similarly, users that subscribed due to an educational opt-in (like an e-book) will respond better to informative content.
It’s also important to be aware of where your user is in the funnel, buying cycle of your users (B2B), as well as any outside factors.
- If you’re a B2C ecommerce business, you could notice the majority of users, even those that don’t typically look at promotional emails, will be receptive to these types of emails during the holiday season.
- If you’re a SaaS business, while users are going through your welcome or onboarding series, it may be beneficial to hold off on upselling until you notice a customer becoming a power-user. Then you can send a promotional email.
While you can start by following an 80/20 or 90/10 split, to get the most out of your list, figure out the best split for each user. To improve customer experience, you’ll want to track data – such as where users signed up, open rate and CTR on informative vs. promotional email – as well as user proper tagging.”
—Josh Brown, SEO & Content Marketing Manager of Helpjuice
Andriy Zapisotskyi, Mailtrap: “There are good reasons to explore interactive content.”
Interactivity and personalization in email marketing are no longer exceptions, but are now the rule. Andriy Zapisotskyi of Mailtrap shed some light on what is to be expected for those who want to create a greater connection (and ROI) with their email subscribers.
“Two trends have emerged in recent years and I believe they’ll become more critical this year.
The first thing is the interactive content in emails. Interactive content is increasibly possible with technologies such as AMP. There are good reasons to explore interactive content, as I’ve seen so many beautiful examples of what can be included in an email – hotel search engines, huge product carousels, entire Pinterest boards, just to name a few examples. I think this will only grow because it’s so much easier for a reader to complete tasks from within their mailbox, particularly mobile users.
Another trend is segmentation, but this year you can take it to a micro-level. If all you do is split your users based on their gender or location, you’re not doing much segmentation. Going forward, you’ll need to be even more specific.
That means analyzing the entire journey of a user on your site or app (what they click, what lands in their cart, which screens they linger on), and sending emails based on that. Add to it the data you already have, like their history of interactions with your emails, and you’ll have a much clearer picture of the individual you’re dealing with.
Both of these things lead to far better personalization. Personalization in emails is what creates an attachment to your brand and contributes to a higher ROI.”
—Andriy Zapisotskyi, Growth Manager at Mailtrap
Siva Devaki, MassMailer: “Senders have become more aware of email data decay.”
How has the pandemic changed the world of email? And what can we learn moving forward? We invited Siva Devaki of MassMailer to share his insights.
“2020 has changed the world and the way people live and work. It also changed the way businesses send and receive emails.
First, email content has been more empathetic, humane, and focused on creating feelings of safety and comfort. Also, email sending volume changed quite a bit. While it was higher during the initial months of the pandemic, during the later part, it sustained to normal levels.
In this new landscape, where email has been a top communication channel, the need for email validation has been very high and will continue to be so during 2021. Senders have become more aware of email data decay. They’ve realized now how important it is to validate their email lists and make this a fundamental habit.
As the COVID vaccination process has started across the world, 2021 is teaching everyone to adapt to the ongoing situation – including in terms of their emailing strategy.
While the changes are disruptive in nature, they’re opening up the opportunity for everyone to think out of the box and become more innovative in engaging with their customers with the utmost care.”
—Siva Devaki, co-founder and CEO of MassMailer
What tips do you plan on implementing in 2021? Are there any we left out?